Archives : barge cruises

Step on Board Papillon, a Gem among Barge Cruises in Burgundy and the Canal du Midi

November 12th, 2013

The anticipation I feel when visiting barges as a barge cruise specialist is hopeful that my first impression will be the same delight my clients feel when they step on board. So when my husband, Jack, and I stepped on board Papillon, a 6 passenger deluxe barge moored in the peaceful port of Dijon, I sighed with pleasure at the immaculate deck scattered with chic and comfortable chairs bordered by planters of lush greens and flowers. The friendly welcome by Owner Bill Higgs, Captain Cedric and Hostess Barbara set the tone for our time together aboard this exquisite gem of a floating country inn.

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France Barge trips with gourmet dining

Every inch of Papillon exudes not only charm from the tasteful fabrics and décor but quality in design and timeless woodwork. From the spacious deck, a few stairs down lead to the airy salon with sink in sofas and inviting open bar. Fresh flowers and plants along with a library of books and music created a homey, lived in atmosphere. The traditional dining room lined with designer fabric and warm oak furniture provides an intimate space for gourmet dining. Chef Ollie was not on board, but her reputation as an excellent chef is renowned in the barging world. Hostess Barbara proudly showed us the cabins which she keeps spotlessly clean.

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Cabins on a Barge Cruise are well planned

Down a few steps from the salon, the cabins are cozy and beautifully planned for unpacking and storing luggage. The newly renovated colorful Provencal tile bathrooms with shower and wc are top quality and pleasing to the eye. The largest of the cabins has twin beds end to end with a sink and vanity separating them. It has the feel of a large cabin even though it is quite narrow. Guests who enjoy unique, comfortable accommodations in small, elegant spaces will love Papillon’s cabins.

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Papillon’s crew consists of the captain, chef, hostess and tour guide who take care of guests’ every need and desire. Accommodate special dietary needs? Absolutely! Stock your favorite liquors? Yes! Customize the activities around your interests? You bet! After a very satisfying visit on board Papillon and very positive feedback from recent clients, I recommend Papillon without reservation.

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For more information and to book this exquisite barge cruise which cruises in southern Burgundy and the Canal du Midi, please contact us.

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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Float Through Burgundian History on an all-inclusive Barge Cruise

July 30th, 2013

Did you ever think about the history of the canals that meander through the French countryside? Created by human labor, these channels were produced through human perseverance and ingenuity in days when traversing wilder countryside was possible only by rugged pathways or old Roman roads. A good day’s travel was measured in tens of miles, not hundreds, as it is today. The waterways we view from the decks of a Burgundy canal barge, with the eyes of a tourist or pleasure cruiser, were historically created for the critical purposes of commerce and communication.

L'Art de Vivre on the Nivernais Canal

The Nivernais Canal in Northern Burgundy, Photo courtesy L’Art de Vivre

Take, for example, the Canal du Nivernais, or Nivernais Canal, in northern Burgundy. It was begun in 1784 in order to aid in the floating of lumber from the Morvan National Park to Paris. There are 110 locks and three tunnels along its 180 kilometer (110 mile) route – which makes it a fascinating waterway to traverse from a touristic perspective, but must have been extremely difficult to design and build with the limited technologies available more than two centuries ago. Over the years, the Nivernais Canal contributed significantly to the economic development of the valleys of the Yonne River through which it flows.

Light plays on the Nivernais Canal

Thank you to Luciole passenger, Evan Cohen, for this gorgeous photo of the Nivernais Canal

Today, you can enjoy both the fascinating history and scenic beauty of this area from the upper deck of two barges, the Luciole or L’Art de Vivre.

L'Art de Vivre, an 8 passenger first class barge

The inviting deck and hot tub of the 8 passenger first class barge, L’Art de Vivre

Between Auxerre and Clamecy, you float through lush countryside, with daily excursions to northern Burgundy’s highlights including:

Luciole, a 14 passenger barge cruising on the Nivernais Canal

The popular 14 passenger barge Luciole has been cruising on the Nivernais Canal for over 30 years.

From your vantage point on the barge or when walking and biking the towpaths, you will see curved stone bridges, vineyard vistas and bucolic pastures. Pretty villages dot the landscape inviting you to explore.

The important mercantile history of the Nivernais Canal with its heritage and beauty adds to the charm of a barge cruise along this remarkable canal. Ready for an historic adventure?

Contact us today to book your cruise on the Nivernais Canal.

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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Barge Cruise Reviews for L’Impressionniste in southern Burgundy, France

June 20th, 2013

Gosh, I love my job when I receive glowing reports from clients who return from their barge cruises.

The 12 passenger deluxe barge, L’Impressionniste, continues to get rave reviews for its cruise through the Valley of the Ouche in Southern Burgundy. Take a look at these unedited reviews:

The lower Burgundy Canal

Summer arrives on the Burgundy Canal near Dijon.

July 2013
“I’m sure no one ever celebrated a 55th wedding anniversary in a more beautiful, caring, environment. The staff became a part of “our family” for the week, and the sun smiled happily down on all our activities.”
Kathy S.

June 2013
“We returned from Paris yesterday and I wanted to send along a big “thank you” for a truly wonderful barge cruise.

I’m not sure where to begin — everything was top notch. The food was fabulous — a feast for the eyes and the appetite. The wine was excellent — well-paired with the food and spectacular. The crew was so friendly, knowledgeable and accommodating.  Our fellow passengers were all delightful and we truly enjoyed our time with them. Our conversations were so lively and engaging that sometimes dinner lasted for 3 – 4 hours! The scenery, the boat, the excursions, and our accommodations on the boat all exceeded our expectations.  This was truly a once-in-a-lifetime experience. The only slight downside was that we were having so much fun that we did not leave the cruise as well-rested as we anticipated — but even that is good! All in all, it was a fabulous trip. Thanks again for all of your help in this.  Even though I said this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, I hope we can do another barge cruise at some point in the future.” Nancy G.
The 12 passenger deluxe barge L'Impressionniste

L’Impressionniste floats through idyllic countryside and pretty villages in southern Burgundy

 

May 2013

“Beth – we just got back to the Westminster and have had a joyous barge trip! The crew and passengers were outstanding. Fine food, fine wine, fine service and fine people. We couldn’t have asked for better…oops! Weather could have been better. We had cold and rain but it didn’t slow anyone down. Fantastic time! Thank you!” J and D

 

October 2012
“Barging through the Burgundy valley has always been on my bucket list. Thanks to all involved, from Beth who helped us with our reservations to the barge crew for making the experience a wonderful and memorable one for me and my wife.” Ken N.

“The service was excellent. I swear they washed the windows and port holes daily. When we asked for a napkin folding demo, they jumped at the opportunity and were always accommodating to each passenger’s needs. Unbelievably beautiful French countryside and smaller towns/winery visited.” Alice N.

A beautiful dining table on L'Impressionniste

Dining on L’Impressionniste gets consistently good reviews for excellence in taste and presentation.

 

May 2012
“The barge cruise and vacation were absolutely superb, wine and food were on a par with a 5 star hotel and so was the Hotel Westminster. We met wonderful people and we are going to get together with two couples in July who live nearby! As a conclusion, everything was super and all the connections worked smoothly. Thank you so much for organizing this trip for us !” P and P

Contact us today to book your cabin or charter on L’Impressionniste.

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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So what is an “all-inclusive” canal barge cruise?

March 24th, 2013
A delicious lunch on board Saint Louis, a deluxe 6 passenger barge in southwest France

A delicious lunch on board Saint Louis, a deluxe 6 passenger barge in southwest France

You see this phrase, “all-inclusive,” a lot, as you’re reading brochures and websites, discerning where you wish to take your next vacation. With the economy resembling a roller-coaster ride over the past few years, the concept of a vacation including “all” seems like a good idea—but is it really true, and how does it work?

Here’s what we mean by an “all-inclusive” canal barge cruise, also known as a “full board” cruise. In a nutshell, it means that once you have paid for your cruise and arrive on the barge, you will not need to pay anything to anyone during your time on board (other than an optional crew gratuity if you are happy with the service and cruise).

In more detail, this is what we mean by all-inclusive. A member of the barge crew will pick you up at the designated meeting location, usually a hotel or train station, and take you to the barge. You will receive cruise-specific information on the location once you have made your reservation, and we are happy to recommend our favorite hotels.  The barge van will return you to a designated location at the conclusion of your cruise to continue your travels.

All meals (your dietary needs and preferences are gladly accommodated) and wines are included. On board the barge is an open bar with both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. Accommodations with private bathroom are included in the cost of the cruise, as are all guided excursions and entrance fees. You will find that our barges also include a number of amenities ranging from bicycles, games, a library, and in many cases, hot tubs on deck! The use of all these are included in the cost of your cruise. Internet service is often available on our barges as well, though sometimes the reception in the countryside is sketchy. If it’s important to stay in touch, we suggest bringing a smart phone.

So what is not included in “all-inclusive”? Well, you will have the pleasure of buying your own souvenirs. Air or ground transportation to the meeting location and travel insurance are not included. And, if you are happy with the service and your cruise experience, a gratuity of 5-10% of the cruise price is greatly appreciated by your hard-working crew.

The bottom line with “all-inclusive” is that we will provide everything that you need to have an enjoyable, fascinating and unforgettable cruise, so contact us today to book one of our all-inclusive cruises!

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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What to Pack for a Barge Cruise – Keep it Light!

February 12th, 2013
The idyllic Garonne Canal in southwest France

The idyllic Garonne Canal of southwest France

You’ve made plans to take a barge cruise! How exciting! The reservations have been made, the dates confirmed and now you need to figure out the really hard part.

What do I pack for my barge cruise? Feel free to download our Suggested Packing List to make it easy.

Because limited space is available on a barge cruise, it helps to choose items you can use more than once. Planning your wardrobe around one or two colors will allow each item to be used in several different ways. A neutral color like black or beige will allow lots of different looks by adding different colored tops.

First decide how casual or dressy you like to be, then adjust what you pack accordingly. Choose 2-3 pairs of pants, jeans or shorts, (depending on the season) and a skirt. With these basic elements, you can add tops, both short sleeve and long, a sweater or blazer, and a variety of scarves, belts or jewelry to change the look.

Be sure to bring a rain coat that can be layered over the sweater for extra warmth if needed. Bring a comfortable pair of walking shoes, some sandals that can double as slippers, and a dressier pair of shoes for evening, preferably with low heels. Add nightwear, a bathing suit, and a sun hat and you will be ready for anything.

Remember to bring small sizes of your toiletries packed in waterproof bags, and perhaps a small collapsible umbrella, a small flashlight, and travel alarm. Don’t forget a converter and plug adapter if you bring your own hairdryer or other small U.S. appliance. Don’t forget your camera with plenty of batteries or the charger (with the adapter plug and converter) and several memory cards.

We highly recommend purchasing a money belt if you don’t already have one. They are worn under your clothing and hold your passport, ATM  and credit cards, large bills, emergency contact information, and irreplaceable tickets.

Packing light is always a good idea, as it’s no fun to haul a heavy suitcase around. With airlines charging for checked baggage and overweight baggage, it’s also a money-saver. Most of us don’t use everything we bring along anyway, so why bring it? That will leave more room for the lovely remembrances we like to buy when we travel.

Do you have more questions about barge cruising? Check out our Frequently Asked Questions or Contact Us for more information.

We can help make your barge cruise one of the most memorable experiences of your life!

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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Welcome to our barge cruises blog!

March 6th, 2012
Jack and Beth Hanson, owners of CanalBargeCruises.com

Jack and Beth Hanson, owners of CanalBargeCruises.com

Greetings from Beth Hanson, the owner of CanalBargeCruises.com. My husband, Jack, and I are all about canal barge cruises in France and Europe after cruising with our own barge for eight years.

Writing a blog is a bit daunting, but I’m ready for the challenge to share my experience and knowledge with you. Why? Because I love barge cruising. And I know a barge load of information about barge cruises from the barges themselves to the canals and sights visited along the way.

So where do I start? When I look back to the days when we owned and operated our own charter barge, I get so nostalgic I want to hop on a plane and head back to the amazing adventure Jack (my husband and partner) and I had from 1988 to 1996 when we cast fate to the wind and cruised the canals of Holland, Belgium and France on our own 4 passenger charter barge. It was the adventure of a lifetime, and I still pinch myself when I think of the most amazing experiences we had. Now that’s a blog!

Now, it is my job and pleasure to match wonderful people with wonderful barges so everyone can create their own experiences.

I’ll do my best to impart helpful information. Thanks for tuning in and subscribing to my blog so we can take this journey together. Welcome aboard, and thank you for letting me barge into your busy life.

Ready to go barging?

Here’s to your good health and happy travels,

Beth Hanson
Barge Cruise Specialist since 1988
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